The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, February 27, 2015

Just Opened - February 27, 2015

Today we have a mix of chamber works and orchestral scores for film.   For quite a few years now, I've been mentioning the relatively small number of orchestral works that we have released.  It's about 3 orchestral releases (including the new, a-melodic composers) for every 20 solo piano releases, then there are the vocal recital releases, mostly sopranos, then come the individual instrumentalist recital releases, and the chamber releases only slightly outnumber the orchestral releases.  So we're dipping back a bit for a CD that is not new, but ought to refresh some fond musical and visual memories, music from 3 major Merchant Ivory films, and a new release that features a work that was the major part of a French film from the same time period.

Merchant Ivory Productions
Original Film Recordings
Music by Richard Robbins
ANGEL/EMI 28956 (3CD set)
ISBN# 7 2438 28956 2 6
For more info. on Merchant Ivory films
Released back in 1994, the film scores to these 3 Merchant Ivory films help explain their box office success.  These scores included performances by renowned groups.  The Maurice score including a performance of Allegri's "Miserere" performed by King's Choir Cambridge, and of course, the soundtrack to A Room With A View featured Puccini arias sung by Kiri Te Kanawa (which she recently reprised as a high profile bit player on "Downton Abbey.")

Chamber Music IV
St. Louis Chamber Players
MSR 1259
Official website of Harbach
Another in the continuing series of recordings of the Chamber Works of living composer Barbara Harbach.   This set includes a 3 song cycle (lyrics for 2 parts by Harbach) in the voice of Harriett Scott (of the Dred-Scott renown), and the 3rd song's lyrics in the words of Harriett Tubman.  Other works on this CD are "Incanta" for chamber ensemble, and a work for brass entitled "The Sounds of St. Louis."  Harbach holds degrees from multiple instutions including The Eastman School of Music, Yale, and a conservatory in Frankfurt.  She initiated "Women in the Arts" a celebration of women creators, and she has toured extensively as a concert organist and harpsichordist, as well as being involved in the research, editing and publication of music by keyboard composers of the 1700s.

Ravel & Chausson
ISBN# 0 90404 94402 4
Official website of Trio Solisti
My Delight of the Week!  The critical raves for this trio of soloists speak eloquently.  The New Yorker hailed them as "the most exciting piano trio in America, with a performance style that includes exceptional virtuosity with penetrating musical insight."  Strad Magazine wrote of their "glorious music with rare commitment and insight."  The Wall Street Journal critic proclaimed them to "succeed the Beaux Arts Trio as the outstanding chambermusic ensemble of its king."  This CD features a pairing of two major trios by Ravel and Chausson.   The Ravel work - sometimes challenging, often hauntingly beautiful in its resolution of dissonances and it's syncopations - may be familiar to many as one of the Ravel works used in the 1992 French film "Un Coeur en Hiver."

Join us next week, for more new releases (and releases new to us) on Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Today's Special - February 25th, 2015

This morning, during "You Asked for It!"  we added a new release as we wrap up our musical celebration of Black History Month.   This new Steinway and Sons release features beautiful concert transcriptions of songs that were made famous by Billie Holiday.

Lara Downes is a Steinway Artist who recently released another CD with cellist Zuill Bailey focusing on works by American Composers.  All of these songs, so closely connected to the career and life of Lady Day - who has been called a social phenomenon of her day - have all been arranged by Composer Jed Distler took his cue from Downes, who wanted these arrangements to reflect the full mutifaceted complextiy of American music from blended cultures.
Lara Downes, piano
Steinway & Sons 30026
ISBN# 0 34062 30026 6                                                                                                                                                                                     Available in stores and online on March 10, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Just Opened - February 20th, 2015

Once again, I am reminded that artists make distinct programatic selections when they put together a CD.  Out of over 500 Scarlatti sonatas, Orion Weiss chose 19 to be a journey of emotion and music.  Of course, you will have individual favorites, but I am encouraged by his notes to remind you again:
If you want to support the artist, buy the CD, and
If you want to understand the artist's musical and artistic intention, take the time to listen to the entire musical journey.

At this year's Grammy's Prince said "Albums matter..." equating it to lives, and simlarly in an interview, Melissa Etheridge said, "I believe in the art form of the album... spending that time with someone to take that journey."

Symphonies No. 57, 67, 68
Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Nicholas McGegan's Official Website
Philharmonia's Official Website
PBP 08
ISBN# 8 52188 00310 2
My Delight of the Week! A name conductor with a name period-instrument orchestra playing one of the most reliable composers since the early 1700s could be met with a yawn, but the reviews of this CD hail it as vital and effervescent, filled with joy, vigor, incisiveness and zest!  Hailed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Classical Review, so you can rest easy as you add it to your own library or give it as a gift.

Contemporary Music for Guitar
Ilkka Turta, guitar
More info on Ilkka Turta
MSR 1491
ISBN# 6 81585 14912 6
Many of listeners love the dulcet tones of the guitar, and... what's not to love?   If you are a fan and have a collection of romantic and restful guitar works, you may like to challenge yourself with this CD that puches the boundaries a bit.  Brouwer's "The Black Decameron" is the best known work on this CD, and while it is frequently played, it can still be a modern challenge for some listeners.  Turta's own "Etudes" and "Two Japanses Songs" by Hosokawa stretch the boundaries even farther, in this CD that demonstrates the risk-taking, intellectual approach, and exemplary technique of Turta, who is clearly interested in moving the guitar into the modern universe.

Cello Symphony & Cello Sonata
Zuill Bailey, cello
Grant Llewellyn, conductor
North Carolina Symphony
Zuill Bailey's Official Website
More info on Grant Llewellyn
North Carolina Symphony's Official Website
TELARC 34412
ISBN# 8 88072 34412 9
Zuill Bailey has become a reliable performer with orchestras, chamber pairings, and as a soloist around the world.   Britten's works for cello and orchestra featured in this CD are probably a challenge for the average listener, and consequently off the beaten path in performance and recording, so... all the better to have them under the capable bow of Bailey.    Pianist Natasha Paremski has been hailed as electrifying in the Sonata.  There is a reason some pieces are rarely performed and programmed.  This CD has met with tepid and mixed reviews mostly - it must be said - because of the music itself, one critic saying it was "no walk in the park for musician or audience." Much of the music was intented to represent turmoil, and... it does that very well.  There are hard-core Britten fans out there who will be very happy to have these fresh recordings with a growing small symphony and the star-power of Bailey.

Complete Keyboard Sonatas, V.15
Orion Weiss, piano
Orion Weiss's Official Website
NAXOS 573 222
ISBN# 7 47313 32227 5
Born the same year as Bach, Domenico Scarlatti was also from a family of musicians, his father Alessandro was largely responsible for the early development of Neopolitan opera.  Domenico is most famous for his extensive series of keyboard sonatas. He wrote well over 500 of them, and they are among the most significant of the keyboard works of the 1700s.  Orion Weiss has been a staple of public radio and classical music station's playlists since he made his orchestral debut in 1999.  Weiss’s impressive list of awards includes the Gilmore Young Artist Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at the Juilliard School and the Mieczyslaw Munz Scholarship. He feels that each sonata is a surprising, engaging world of sound, and his has chosen these sonatas to create a whole program, a narrative emotional and musical journey.  
Thanks again to SU practicum Taylor Goebel, for pulling together the pictures, info. and websites for your information.   Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.

Thank you for listening to WSCL-FM, for making us a part of your day, and for your financial support of Delmarva Public Radio.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, February 13, 2015

Just Opened - February 13, 2015

We continue our celebration of African American History Month with works by modern African composers and African American composers as well.  Traditional and new works for solo cello, romantic works for clarinet and piano, and the pulse-jumping orchestral works of Jack Gallagher round out today's new selections, Just Opened.

ASA: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent
William Chapman Nyaho, piano
Nyaho's Official Website
MSR 1242
ISBN# 6 81585 1242 2 2
My Delight of the Week!  Nyaho is a Ghanian American with music degrees from his native Ghana, London, Oxford and the Eastman school of music, and if that weren't enough, he has also studied in Switzerland.   In addition to his teaching career, he has compiled and edited a 5 volume graded anthology, "Piano Music of the African Diaspora" (Oxford Univeristy Press)  As this CD clearly demonstrates, his lecture-rectials and workshops advocate the knowledge of, and performance of works by Composers of African descent.   Some of these works have the lyricism of the romantic European tradition and will challenge your idea of what the work of an African Composer would sound like.  Some challenge in the direction of sounding like atonal concerts works, and others have the infectious syncopation that is infinitely appealing and exactly what you might expect.  This collection is a marvelous introduction to all these things encompassed in the work of Nyaho, and to a broader array of African-related music than we usually get. 

Symphony No. 2 'Ascendant'
JoAnn Falletta, conductor
London Symphony Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta's Official Website
London Symphony Orchestra Website
NAXOS 559768
ISBN# 6 36943 97682 1
Gallagher was a trumpeter, and it apparent in his compositions - his strengths make a tremendous and rich use of the brass.  And the most compelling parts of his symphony sound like wonderful band music.  Just as Wagner used brass to fine effect, the slower movements - with more effective use of the full orchestra - are very reminiscent of Wagners extension of the melodic line and slow development.  His brassy "Ascendant" symphony is paired on this cd with a work that is bound to be very successful, due to its melodic accessibility and it's short length (12 minutes).  

Transcriptions for Clarinet and Piano
Jonathan Cohler, clarinet
Rasa Vitkauskaite, piano
Jonathan Cohler's Official Website
Rasa Vitkauskaite's Official Website
ISBN# 7 62738 01232 7
These two performers have extensive individual performance careers, as well as an on-going performance partnership of several CDs.  Both have won numberous awards, and as we are sharing several of their CDs here within the past few months, they clearly have a breadth of musical influences and adaptability.   Vitkauskaite is the pianist for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.  This is an exceptionally accessible and engaging collection of works.   Like it or not, we are all still children of the romantic era, musically-speaking, so these melodic works speak easily to us.  Works bye Schumann, Prokofiev and Gaustavino.   If you are interested in getting to know the "solo" voice of the clarinet better, this would be an effective and enjoyable choice.

Suzanne Mueller, cello
ISBN# 8 84501 93803 7
For information and purchase
Mueller has infused her selection with a sense of personal taste and musical activism.   Her selections on this CD include composers well known to our listeners, JS Bach and Rick Sowash, as well as a wealth of new composers and new works which she credits to "Composers Voice."  That organization's calls for compositions has provided Mueller with material, contact with young composers, and the ability to ask composers to transcribe work intended for other instruments to work for her instrument.  Mueller commissioned the title track by Carol Worthey as a birthday present to herself - a theme and variations as varied as life itself.  
           I regularly  mention to our listeners that if they want to truly support the artist, they should buy the CD, both because CD purchase provides the largest income back the the artist, but also because the CD allows the listener to hear the musicians throughline and intention in creating a musical "story" line.  This CD by Mueller is a perfect, clearly personal, example of the intimacy of the CD.

Special thanks to our SU practicum Taylor Goebel for her work pulling together the basic CD info.- pictures, label info & websites - the better to help you find the CD you want.  Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, February 6, 2015

Just Opened - February 6th, 2015

We're AWAKENING to new CDs ON THE HORIZON today, on Just Opened.

New Music for Trumpet and Piano
Jason Bergman, trumpet
Ellen Eder, piano
Jason Bergman's Official Website
MSR 1482
ISBN# 6 81585 14822 8
This CD opens with the film-ic "Centennial Horizon" which puts us in a place of wide-open spaces, and a sense of new beginnings (like the end of film noir movie when they move to the country to start a new life).  It sets the tone for a CD that both pleases and takes risks in new territory.  Two spanish-flavored works are equally accessible, and two concert works (one of the with a second trumpet, William Campbell joining for a trio) that are more challenging and experimental.  The combination of all these flavors makes for a strong technical calling-card for Bergman, and a program of varied interest for us as listeners.

Jesse Mills, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Rieko Aizawa, piano
The Horszowski Trio's Official Website
ISBN# 0 90404 94412 3
This trio have been called "power players" filled with musical conviction.  Pianist Aizawa was Horszowski's last piano student, and critics say she grounds the trio with a practical, clean focus on the music, with no extra frills added.   I would think that is just right for the pianist in a trio, and it means that she provides an excellent cohesive springboard for the flashy string players.  This CD presents an interesting trio of early-modern works, from a trio worth watching as they grow.

AWAKENING: 21st Century Slovenian Flute Music
Nicole Molumby, flute
Leslie Moreau, clarinet
Janis Mckay, bassoon
Nicole Molumby's Official Website
MSR 1448
ISBN# 6 81585 14482 4
My Delight of the Week!  When one hears the title of this CD, it could fill one with musical apprehension, but most of these works are infused with folk-influence and surprisingly easy on the ear and enjoyable.

Anderson & Roe Piano Duo
Greg Anderson's Official Website
Elizabeth Joy Roe's Official Website
Steinway & Sons 30033
ISBN# 0 34062 30033 4
A variety of transcriptions, serious and light, all executed with the technical precision we expect of a Steinway artist combined with the playfulness we hope for from a piano duo!

Special thanks to our SU practicum Taylor Goebel for pulling together the pictures and information on today's CDs.  Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, January 30, 2015

A reminder to buy the CD

As I have been mentioning recently on Just Opened, if you want to support the music and career of an artist, do not download - buy the CD.

Cellist Zoe Keating has taken fire by going public on some of these online issues for musicians:

Keating caused a stir with this blogpost about youtube's new contract for musicians.

Article with Keating revealing payouts for downloads.

These two links are fairly long articles, but essential reading for understanding what today's artist - for whom online presence is considered a necessary part of business - has to navigate to attempt getting paid for their performances.  (After reading the numbers in the second article, Keating seems to think 70K is a poor salary for working single mom, while most of the single moms I know, would think this is luxurious, and many musicians friends would find that income dreamy.  Still, this is just a single year in a very ephemeral market.)

In Classical era terms - it is similar to when Mozart felt underpaid and under appreciated in his court positions.  Being thrown out of court did not end his career, but it meant that he did not have the steady position, pay, and living of those in court.  He lived in a more hand-to-mouth manner, living on loans and promises of future pay on completion.  We remember him because his work has survived, but he could as easily have died in obscurity without a recognized masterwork, as many surely did.

Salieri negotiated the "system" very well.  It points to the reality that artists still have the reality of difficult trade-offs to get paid for their work, and many of these trade-offs may actually hinder or kill off great art in the making, by the simple closing of a door and the lack of proper pay.

Kara Dahl Russell

Just Opened, January 30, 2015

Today we have a wide selection of the traditional and the new, the challenging and the soothing, in settings of solo works, chamber, and orchestral.

Premieres for Trumpet & Wind Ensemble
Eric Berlin, trumpet
UMASS Wind Ensemble
MSR 1506
ISBN# 6 81585 15062 7
more info. on Eric Berlin
This CD is bound to get second and third hearings now that one of the works, Concerto for 2 Trumpets and Band by Stephen Paulus has receieved a 2015 Grammy Nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.  There are other new works on this CD that are worthy of attention, and more accessible, too:  the opening "Herald Emeritus Fanfare" and Continuum for Trumpet, Trombone and Wind Ensemble" by Jeffrey Holmes, and James Stephenson's "Duo Fantastique" have melodic riffs that remind us that new music can still be enjoyable.

Zuill Bailey, cello
Jun Markl, cond.
Indianapolis Symphony Orch.
Steinway & Sons 30049
ISBN# 0 34062 30049 5
Bailey's Official Website
My Delight of the Week.  Steinway and Sons focuses primarily on piano artists, so when a cellist is on their roster, you know it is an artist worth noticing.  In this case Zuill Bailey records major works for Cello and Orchestra by Ernest Bloch, and the world premier recording of Nico Muhly's Cello Concerto.  Pairing a new work with the rich melodies of Bloch gives this musical program an expansive breadth.

Piano Sonatas
Ian Hominick, piano
MSR 1475
ISBN # 6 81585 14752 8
Hominick's Official Website
Clementi was a child prodigy, contemporary of Mozart, and worthy of Mozarts rivalry and sniping comments.  His works have stood the test of time, and have been the basis of many greats who went on to form their own piano pedagogy.  Far from stuffy archaic works, Clementi's works were popular in their own time (Mozart's sister played some of them), and remain popular today for their wit and sparkle.

Ian Bostridge, tenor
Julius Drake, piano
EMI 57112
ISBN# 7 24355 71122 9
Official site for Bostridge
Official site for Drake
The song settings of Henze are an acquired taste, and may be too challenging for some, but these works definitely follow in a line from Schoenberg and Messien in the continuation of modern song cycles.  Bostridge and Drake perform "3 Auden Songs" and an interesting cycle dedicated to them, "6 Songs from the Arabian."

Danielle Talamantes, soprano
Henry Dehlinger, piano
MSR 1476
ISBN# 6 81585 14762 7
Talamante's Official Website
Dehlinger's Official Website
The composers featured in these song cycles/groups were known for combining latin melodic flair with brilliant pianistic flourish, so you will want to be sure to listen to the marvelous accompaniment of Dehlinger.  These works are not quite as challenging as the Henze works, but some of these are extensions of the influence of Mahler and Wagner, and the extended lines are not for those who want quick melodic payoff... you have to wait for the resolutions, but the rewards are rich.  Speaking of rich, Talamantes voice is worth a separate mention for its depth and fullness.

Thanks to our SU Practicum, Taylor Goebel for her work on pulling together photos and info. for today's blog.  Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell


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